In this third article in our series on domestic discipline, we will be looking at a few 19th century judicial decisions on the lawfulness of husbands practicing domestic discipline toward their wives. We will start with two cases which upheld the right of a husband to practice corporal chastisement on his wife and then move to a decision which overturned these precedents.
1834 – Calvin Bradley vs The State of Mississippi
In this case of a husband being charged with battery against his wife the Supreme Court of Mississippi referenced the ancient common law to affirm the right of “domestic discipline” by husbands:
“It is true, according to the old law, the husband might give his wife moderate correction, because he is answerable for her misbehaviour; hence it was thought reasonable, to intrust him, with a power, necessary to restrain the indiscretions of one, for whose conduct he was to be made responsible
I believe it was a case before Mr. Justice Raymond, when the same doctrine was recognised, with proper limitations and restrictions, well suited to the condition and feelings of those, who might think proper to use a whip or rattan, no bigger than my thumb, in order to inforce the salutary restraints of domestic discipline.
Family broils and dissentions cannot be investigated before the tribunals of the country… let the husband be permitted to exercise the right of moderate chastisement… without being subjected to vexatious prosecutions, resulting in the mutual discredit and shame of all parties concerned. Judgment affirmed.”
In the case of Calvin Bradley vs The State, the court affirmed what it called “the ancient common law” right of a husband to use “moderate chastisement” with his wife referring to this practice as “domestic discipline”. It also respected the limits of civil government interfering in the affairs of the family and stated husbands should not be subjected to prosecutions for exercising their right to domestic discipline as long as they did so in moderation.
1864 – State Of North Carolina vs Jesse Black
In this case the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled as follows:
“A husband is responsible for the acts of his wife, and he is required to govern his household, and for that purpose the law permits him to use towards his wife such a degree of force as is necessary to control an unruly temper and make her behave herself; and unless some permanent injury be inflicted, or there be an excess of violence, or such a degree of cruelty as shows that it is inflicted to gratify his own bad passions, the law will not invade the domestic forum or go behind the curtain.”
As in previous cases, the court affirmed that the husband’s right to chastise his wife flows from his responsibility to govern all in his household and his wife is part of his household. The court affirmed that it is improper for the civil government to “invade the domestic forum”.
In this decision, the court did recognize limits on the husband’s power to use corporal punishment to chastise his wife. They said that a husband’s chastisement of his wife should not cause any “permanent injury” or be excessively violent and that he should not discipline his wife for his own sadistic pleasure. The court’s view in this case aligns with the Scriptural command to husbands in Ephesians 5:28-29 that they are to care for and protect their wife’s bodies as they would their own.
1871 – The Year American Courts Invaded the Domestic Forum
It was in 1871, that a state court did what others had warned against decades earlier. The court invaded the domestic forum, the sphere of authority given to men as the heads of their households. It not only overturned decades of American court precedent, but invalidated ancient common law rights of husbands upon which those precedents were built.
In 1871 the case of Fulgham V. State, the Alabama Supreme court ruled as follows:
“Since then, however, learning, with its humanizing influences, has made great progress, and morals and religion have made some progress with it. Therefore, a rod which may be drawn through the wedding ring is not now deemed necessary to teach the wife her duty and subjection to the husband. The husband is therefore not justified or allowed by law to use such a weapon, or any other, for her moderate correction. The wife is not to be considered as the husband’s slave. And the privilege, ancient though it be, to beat her with a stick, to pull her hair, choke her, spit in her face or kick her about the floor, or to inflict upon her like indignities, is not now acknowledged by our law”
Two key words stand out in the first sentence and those words are “humanizing” and “progress”.
What does it mean to “humanize” someone? And to what “progress” were they referring? To understand these concepts, we have to compare and contrast the social classes of the post enlightenment age with those that came before it.
When God created mankind, he ordained three core social classes and those were men, women and children. After sin entered the world, he allowed for a fourth social class of slaves (both male and female) because of poverty and war.
Humanists rejected these four social class structures and instead sought to bring about a new model of society that had only two social classes which we know today as “adults” and “children”. The abolitionist humanists first targeted the slave class for elimination. Then some female abolitionists broke off and organized the first womens rights conference in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York.
When they talked about “humanizing” people, they were talking about making women and slaves equal with free men. In other words, they were seeking to eliminate the social classes of men, women and slaves and replace those classes with one new social class, that of a “human” or “adult” while leaving the child class intact.
This is why today if any adult is seen has having less rights than another adult, it is said that the person with less rights is being “dehumanized”.
The ultimate goal of humanists of the late 19th century was to build an “internationalist” or what we call today “globalist” society. No men, no women, no slaves, no rich, no poor, no Christians, no Muslims, no Jews, no Americans, no Mexicans, no British.
And it is this march toward a one world society with no nations, no religions, no genders, no rich and no poor that humanists refer to as “progress”. And this is why leftists today refer to themselves as “progressives”.
Humanists knew that their master plan would take decades and perhaps more than a century to bring about. And they knew they had to do it in small incremental pieces. This is why if you notice in this ruling, the court still acknowledged that a wife had a duty to be in subjection to her husband. It would have been too much for American society to accept all at once that a husband could not use corporal punishment on his wife and that a wife did not have a duty to obey her husband.
The court was simply taking away a primary means of him enforcing that subjection, his ability to use corporal chastisement on his wife. And by reducing the ability of husbands to enforce their rule over their wives, women were given more power.
In other words, taking away a husband’s right to use corporal discipline upon his wife was one of the first steps in dismantling patriarchy.
The court falsely equated a man using moderate correction with a rod to him having a right “to pull her hair, choke her, spit in her face or kick her about the floor”. This is what leftists do, they use extremes and abuses of authority, or this case chastisement, to get rid of all chastisement and in essence to get rid of an authority’s ability to chastise.
While Tennessee was the first state to outlaw “wife beating” in 1850, the vast majority of states did not do so until after this ruling in the 1870s.
But even though the courts and state legislatures had invaded the domestic forum by the late 19th century, local law enforcement officials rarely enforced these laws. In other words, most local police did not feel right about invading the domestic forum even though state laws and court decisions would allow it.
It would not be until more than a century after the first laws denying husbands’ rights to use corporal punishment on their wives, that a new “Domestic Violence” movement would arise in the early 1970s. It was then that new domestic violence laws were passed and edicts came down from state and local governments forcing police to invade the domestic forum.
We have shown here that early 19th century jurisprudence respected ancient common laws giving husbands the right to use corporal punishment as part of domestic discipline with their wives.
The courts showed great deference to the domestic forum, recognizing it was not right for civil authorities to intervene in domestic affairs, except under the gravest of circumstances, as husbands were to have supremacy in the affairs of their homes.
Later courts, following humanist philosophies, broke this sacred rule and launched a full-scale government invasion of the domestic forum with the attack on corporal punishment of wives being only one of the first battles in this invasion.